Being a journalist can be a thankless job sometimes. Content producers regularly hear from people who don’t like their work or dispute it, but praise is far less common. So it was refreshing—and much appreciated—for the 120 members of the media who gathered at this week’s Outdoor Blogger Summit (OBS) in Roanoke, Virginia, to be part of an award process that acknowledges their hard work.
“Media and journalism in the outdoor industry can be tough. It consumes long hours, it oftentimes doesn't pay well and critics go to far lengths to let you know you're wrong. Outdoor Media Awards is our way of patting people and publications on the back and encouraging them to continue to fight the good fight,” said Yoon Kim, founder of Outdoor Blogger Summit.
The award began just last year at the 2017 Outdoor Blogger Summit in Bentonville, Arkansas, as a way to celebrate the media community in a fun interactive way.
There were more than 130 nominations coming in from all corners of the outdoor industry. The judging panel included freelance writer and editor of Outdoor Sports Guide, Jenny Willden, founder of The Adventure Blog/The Adventure Podcast, Kraig Becker, founder of Gear Junkie, Stephen Regenold, marketing director for OBS, Connor Cockrell, and founder of Blogs for Brands/Outdoor Blogger Summit, Yoon Kim. After much debate, the judges culled the field into three finalists per category and then, voted on the winners.
Without further ado, here are this year's winners, as presented on stage by Willden and Tyler Benedict, founder of bikerumor.com.
Outdoor Editor of the Year | Our very own Kristin Hostetter
“We are facing interesting times in outdoor journalism,” said Benedict. “Undisclosed sponsored content, unfairly biased reporting and even, fake news. This award goes to an editor who has not only proven editorial excellence despite these challenges, she has shown leadership in how executive editorial decisions should be made, while growing readership and revenue under her leadership.”
Finalists: Sean McCoy, Gear Junkie; Cameron Martindell, Elevation Outdoor
Best Outdoor B2B Story | “The State of Diversity in the Outdoor Industry” by Courtney Holden and Kassondra Cloos, as seen in The Daily at Outdoor Retailer (powered by SNEWS)
“The business environment in outdoor is changing rapidly with digital disruption, ecommerce, trade, and attacks on public lands to name a few challenges,” said Willden. “Business publications play an important role as protectors and advocates of the outdoor business community for brands, retailers, and their consumers at large.”
Finalists: Outdoor Industry Voters Guide by Katie Boué for Outdoor Industry Association; “Powder Skiing in Japan Continues to Fuel Global Snowsports Industry” by Aaron Bible, as seen on SIA Blog
Outdoor PR Partner of the Year | Eric Henderson of Meteorite PR
“The role of PR in journalism is facing interesting challenges; digital marketing, sponsored content, social media and PR are merging into a hot mess,” said Willden, who presented this award. “Many brands these days say silly things like ‘PR is outdated.’ Despite these challenges, some agencies, like the newly formed Meteorite, have proven the value of PR.”
Finalists: Shane and Hilary Hutcheson of Outside Media; Todd Walton of Walton Works
Best Outdoor Blog | Gear Patrol
“Today’s blog has to break through the noise of what the internet has become: social, podcasts, video and all the other mediums,” said Willden. “Add that to a continuing showdown between owned and operated versus the social platform and there’s a lot going on in the blogosphere. To stay relevant, you have to do something above and beyond and connect with your audience regularly.”
Best Outdoor Diversity Blog | Melanin Basecamp
“Diversity has been arguably, the hottest topic in not just outdoor journalism, but overall journalism in 2018,” said Benedict. Melanin Basecamp does a great job of writing about delicate issues. "We're not trying to take away from anything, we're trying tell more and different stories from diverse people and that's something that everyone can rally around," said founder, Danielle Williams.
Best Brand Blog | Mystery Ranch Blog
“Branded blogs have become a significant player in the world of content,” said Willden. “While some argue that branded blogs are the reason why print journalism is dying, one thing is clear. They are not going away. And they’re only getting more influential. These blogs have embraced their increasingly powerful voice and shown leadership in editorial through these branded channels.”
Best Outdoor Family Blog | Outdoor Families Online
“Let’s face it: The outdoors can be intimidating, especially for families with children,” said Willden. “These blogs make it easy to get your kids outside.”
The winners of this year’s awards receive a badge to place on their websites, a customized Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers t-shirt and an adidas Terrex Stockholm Fleece jacket and with the words “Outdoor Media Summit Award Winner 2018” on them.
Best Outdoor Podcast | The Build Cycle
“Whether it’s mowing the lawn or sitting on a long flight, podcasts have proven their value as an important medium for digital publishing (and the cure for long commutes),” said Willden. “Podcasts now rival radio stations for dominance in audio- based editorial. The growth of podcasts led to many finalists in this year’s nominations.”
Best Outdoor YouTube Channel | Seth’s Bike Hacks
“Americans love their YouTube,” said Benedict. “And they love their YouTubers. So much so that YouTube viewership is on pace to surpass TV viewership in the next few years. Digital video will surpass TV viewership by 2020. The outdoor industry is no exception.”
Best Outdoor Photo Essay | “Art and Ecology Go Together Like Glaciers and Glacier National Park,” written and photographed by Charles Post, art by Rachel Pohl, as seen on KEEN’s Blog.
“At this year’s OBS, we learned that Photos and Photo Essays are completely different things,” said Benedict. “Photo essays tell a story that is almost impossible to capture in words. Today’s publishing environment allows photo essays to be told in Instagram stories to Facebook albums to print.”
Finalists: “El Rodeo Orizaba” by Chris Shane, as seen on Explore Inspired; “Messengers: A Public Lands Story” written by Johnie Gall and Andy Cochrane, photos by Johnie Gall, film by Yeehaw Donkey/Greg Balkin, as seen on Dirtbag Darling
Best Adventure Travel Story | “Hunting Cassowary in the Daintree Rainforest” by Karen Looney-Patterson, as seen on Evergreen Awakening
“Few things are better in life that traveling and writing about adventures,” said Willden. “Sharing those adventures with the world provides insight into unique experience and inspires others to travel and become more sensitive to other cultures.
Best Outdoor Gear Article | “Buy It for Life: Iconic Gear That Hasn’t Changed” by Aaron Bible, as seen on Gear Junkie
Gear articles give consumers insight into purchases, but some are actually fun to read. This year’s finalists took an interesting spin on their swag experiences inserting clever themes into their takes on gear,” said Benedict.
Best Outdoor Advocacy Piece | It's Time for Digital Leave No Trace Principles by Modern Hiker
“Outdoor writers have a responsibility to protect the places where they play,” said Willden. “These authors have brought attention to protect some of the most sensitive natural environments. Without their work, people would still be selfy-ing with bears, walking off cliffs while playing Pokemon, and vandalising public places. OK, they still do but it’s now being addressed,” said Benedict.
Finalists: “Saving Baby Sea Turtles in Fort Lauderdale with Sea Turtle Oversight Protection” by Coleman Concierge; “Bears Ears Grand Staircase Escalante: The Ins and Outs of a National Movement” by Katie Boue
Best Outdoor Humor Story | “The People Pleasers Plan for Climbing a Mountain” by Brendan Leonard of Semi Rad
“What fun would outdoor editorial be if it was serious all the time?” said Willden. “These writers have been able to make light of their experiences in the outdoors while not alienating groups of people. Instead, they turn their experiences into inspiring humorous pieces,” said Willden.
Finalists:“One Item You Should Never Bring on a Hike (Seriously)” by Patrick of the Vertical Adventurer; “Goats and Yoga: A Perfect Match” by RoseAnna Schick, seen on Winnipeg Free Press
It’s never too early to to nominate a piece, publication, or person for the 2019 Outdoor Media Awards. Visit: outdoorbloggersummit.com/submit-award-ceremony-nominee/